Saturday, November 3, 2007

Heroes

To the best of my knowledge, I have never blogged about what I did on the weekend or disclosed intimate details about myself just for the sake of 'sharing'. With the exception of the picture to the right, I never post photographs of myself. Although I would characterize myself as an intensely private, perhaps even secretive, person (I am a Scorpio), my assumption is that little I do is terribly interesting - certainly not blog-worthy - to myself, nor would it be to a blogosphere of strangers. But today I have chosen to break my own rules.

Señor Gato Gringo and I went to the movies today. The film was The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Why do I mention this? For a number of reasons. Once we made the decision to go see the film, the folk song Jesse James started coursing through my brain. Although I don't pretend to have the entire song committed to memory, I can still sing a few verses as well as the chorus:

Well Jesse had a wife to mourn for his life,
Three children now they were brave.
Well that dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard,
He laid poor Jesse in his grave.

Nonetheless I was jolted when, towards the end of the film, the song was performed by a bowery saloon singer. I had forgotten that the song was contemporaneous and not of my childhood - such is the egotism of the very young. A Robin Hood in his day, James' victims were usually those who exploited and persecuted the farmers of America's midwest: the railroads and the banks (he stole from the rich and he gave to the poor) and to many disenfranchised he was a hero. Unarmed, the once Civil War guerrilla turned desperado was shot from behind by friend Robert Ford, further mythologizing his life, betrayal, and death; shortly after his murder, an unknown balladeer named Billy Gashade wrote the song I watched Nick Cave perform today.

The ballad has been performed by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen
but it was my father who first introduced me to the song. My father used to sing to me - as he did my brother before me - at bedtime, usually American folksongs (although we are Canadian) like Jesse James or the Missouri Waltz or pretty much anything by Burl Ives. That my father sang and read to me as a child is something for which I am profoundly grateful. To this day, when I hear any rendition of All the Pretty Little Horses, I cry.

So today I saw The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and sang the song in my head before, during, and after the film. Today also marks the 8th anniversary of my father's death. He was my hero. And for that I cry too.

19 comments:

Di Mackey said...

Lovely post, La Gatita. It caught me in the place where tears think about forming when I came to the end of it.

I lost my mum 8 years ago.

Cathy said...

Favourite Ernie quote of all time:
"Well I guess you're just shit outof luck then, aren't you?"

I'll play some jazz tonight in his honour.

Anne said...

I thought of you & grampy & nanny & dad today. I ate a pomegranate this morning and thought about all you guys. I always eat one on the day that Grampy died, because I remember you saying that he really liked them and since they're out at this time of year they always make me think of him. I guess it's kind of a silly ritual but, like I said, it makes me think of him...

La Gatita Gringa said...

Thanks to all - you've helped me make the best of a crappy day.

knarf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
La Gatita Gringa said...

Knarf: You're welcome but I wish I could have been spared the post.

knarf said...

I'm sorry. What you wrote brought up memories. I thought what I said was more or less along the same lines as your blog.

I will delete the post.

I'm sorry to have caused you pain...

:-(

La Gatita Gringa said...

Why did you delete the comment? It was lovely. That was silly! What I meant was if Dad were still alive then I would never have had to write the post in the first place. I said nothing about your comment.

Lenox said...

My dad used to love the Burl Ives record we had - 'Keep 'em moving Sam, doncha listen to his plan, he's a devil of a man and he spreads the burning sand - with water..'
Un abrazo.

La Gatita Gringa said...

Cheers Lenox! I drive my husband crazy by singing Burl Ives' Freight Train.

Anonymous said...

I will always remember the picture of him you used to keep in your office. I also remember stopping by one day and it was moved - I noticed immediately!! ;)

Hope things are well with you and Senor GG.

Cheers!
Diane

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